Security Clearance Denial

Associating with Illegal Drug Users Results in Clearance Revocation

The Department of Energy (DOE) Personnel Security Program has a reputation as one of the better ones across the Federal government. Background investigators actually prefer working DOE cases because of the level of professionalism, courtesy, and cooperation from the applicants, their co-workers, supervisors, and even neighbors. DOE ingrains security awareness into their employees and clearly lays out the security clearance process and expectations after granting eligibility for access to classified information. Their policy requires self-reporting incidents within five working days of occurrence. Employee self-reporting is an area DOE takes prides in because more often than not, issues employees report are usually resolved and mitigated by the time reinvestigations roll around. However, there are always exceptions to the rule, and I ran across a DOE appeals case in which the contractor had her clearance revoked in part for untimely self-reporting. Here is a summary of the case:

–          In December 2017 she was pulled over and cited for speeding. During the traffic stop the police found a suspicious pill bottle and marijuana in her friend’s bag. Although not arrested on the spot, she was charged with possession of schedule IV drugs and marijuana and driving without a license.  The drug charges were eventually dropped.

–          In November 2016 she was arrested and charged with driving under the influence. She excuse was stress separating from her husband at the time and she had been out commiserating with her brother. She was found guilty of DUI and had restrictions put on her license.

–          In January 2015 she was arrested and charged with assault- domestic violence for slapping her husband across the face. The charge was later dismissed.

She did not report the latest incident (2017) until a month later, and when asked by local security officials as to why, she said she thought because she wasn’t arrested there was no requirement to. She also had a history of associating with friends who were illegal drug users, but claimed to only been around them occasionally when they used and to not have used them herself. Although it may seem like the actual issues involved in the case are minor, the underlying conduct that led to multiple incidents, associations with known illegal drug users, and poor judgment were not mitigated and the judge denied her appeal.